GOP negotiators meet on ObamaCare market fix

GOP negotiators meet on ObamaCare market fix
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Top Republican negotiators on a bill to stabilize ObamaCare markets met on Thursday to discuss a way to bridge the gap between House and Senate measures.

GOP Sens. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderThe Higher Education Act must protect free speech Embattled senators fill coffers ahead of 2020 GOP senators divided on Trump trade pushback MORE (Tenn.) and Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsMcConnell pledges to be 'Grim Reaper' for progressive policies Senate Republicans tested on Trump support after Mueller Collins: Mueller report includes 'an unflattering portrayal' of Trump MORE (Maine) met with House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg WaldenGregory (Greg) Paul WaldenCongress has questions for Google's 'Sensorvault' Conservative groups defend tech from GOP crackdown Overnight Health Care — Presented by PCMA — Sanders unveils new Medicare for all bill with backing from other 2020 Dems | White House slams Sanders' rollout | Drugmakers, 'middlemen' point fingers on insulin pricing MORE (R-Ore.) to discuss an effort to get ObamaCare stability measures included in a coming long-term government funding bill due in March, known as an omnibus.

“We actually think we're very close,” Alexander told reporters. “We hope it will be part of the omnibus.”  

“We're comparing notes on the bills,” he added.

Walden discussed a bill from Rep. Ryan CostelloRyan Anthony CostellloOvernight Energy: Park Service closing Joshua Tree after shutdown damage | Dems deliver trash from parks to White House | Dems offer bills to block offshore drilling | Oil lobby worries about Trump trade fight Ex-GOP Rep. Ryan Costello joins group pushing carbon tax Exiting lawmakers jockey for K Street perch MORE (R-Pa.) which seeks to stabilize markets and bring down premiums by providing funding known as reinsurance.

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That measure is similar to a bill backed by Collins in the Senate, but there are some differences that need to be bridged. For example, the Costello bill provides more funding: $10 billion per year compared to $5 billion per year in Collins’s bill.

Alexander called Costello’s measure a “very promising proposal.”

“We were very impressed with the work that Rep. Costello has done and hope that it could be a part of what the House decides to do,” Alexander said.

House Republicans were a major impediment to passing the stabilization bills in December, when Collins secured a commitment from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellThe Hill's Morning Report - Will Joe Biden's unifying strategy work? Dems charge ahead on immigration Biden and Bernie set for clash MORE (R-Ky.) to support them in exchange for her vote for tax reform.

But GOP lawmakers have been warming to the proposal recently, particularly the reinsurance funding.

Some conservatives still oppose that idea as a “bailout” for ObamaCare.

Another obstacle is abortion politics. Republicans are adamant that the Hyde Amendment, which restricts federal funding for abortions, be included in the stabilization measures, but Democrats are against anything they view as an expansion of the restrictions.

“Lowering premiums for hardworking Americans remains one of Chairman Walden’s top priorities and he appreciates Rep. Costello, Senator Alexander, and Senator Collins’ continued work on these issues,” an Energy and Commerce Committee spokesman said.